Theater archives

At Home with Bearden, Brahms, Jelly Roll Morton, and Lebo M


Alvin Ailey mated modern dance with the glitz and sexual thrust of Broadway jazz; Garth Fagan, by contrast, infuses the modern genre with country comforts. His recent DancecollageforRomie sets a bunch of good dancers in appliquéd down-home duds moving to music by Shostakovich, Villa-Lobos, and Jelly Roll Morton. The whole thing feels like a church social, and you’re ready to join the congregation—or head uptown to catch Romare Bearden’s retrospective at the Whitney.

The new —-ing, to Brahms’s Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet in B Minor, op. 115, doesn’t quite seem to have found its way, but it clearly evidences Fagan’s passion for this composer and his desire to display his troupe of engaging performers dancing both with and against the score; ballet steps give way to shimmies and stamps as the mostly black troupe finds the polyrhythms in the 19th-century German classic.